Rowan Pelling: Fed up with being just plain Jane? Well, ditch her. Be Marilyn instead

Modern women have the right to be whoever they want - just look at Jordan. One problem: people may think you're bonkers

Share
Related Topics

There are many mechanisms for coping with a dreary existence on this planet. I particularly admire the gambit where someone goes to bed plain Jane Smith and awakes knowing she's the last direct heir to the lost throne of Atlantis. Only last week the Californian psychiatrist of Canadian singer Sherrie Lea Laird announced to a startled world that he supports her claims to be the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe. After all, she can pick out Monroe's maiden aunts in photos and the actress played a singer called Cherie in Bus Stop. Spooky, huh?

Throughout the 20th century every other Eastern European émigrée to the US claimed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia, according to popular legend the only member of the Romanov family to escape assassination by the Bolsheviks. One day you're nobody, the next you're busy recovering memories of mama's dress at the Winter Ball and tea with Rasputin.

The big plus to this harmless bit of escapism is that you can usually wrestle a best-selling book from your moment of revelation. My older sister and I as teenagers both lapped up Peter Kurth's 1983 best-seller, Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson (the most notorious claimant to the dead duchess's shoes). What was not to adore? All teens harbour daydreams of discovering that the freaks who claim to be their family aren't really blood relatives.

I've no doubt that thousands of hormonally-challenged young women will be similarly enraptured by Kathleen McGowan's The Expected One. This "semi-autobiographical novel", as McGowan terms it, is yet another trot through the myths surrounding Mary Magdalene, arguing that she married Jesus, had a child, moved to France, where believers conspired to protect her identity, blah blah blah. But where McGowan holds a trump card over Dan Brown is in her claims of divine revelation. First there was the dream that inspired her to write the book, in which she saw a desperate woman at the foot of the Cross on Good Friday: "The woman's eyes, huge and bright with un-shed tears, fell somewhere in the colour spectrum between amber and sage, an extraordinary light hazel that reflected infinite wisdom and unbearable sadness in one heart-searing blend." Ah yes, prose that falls somewhere in the colour spectrum between Imperial purple and Barbie pink, a light version of literature that reflects infinite tosh and unbearable tedium in one soul-sapping blend.

After the dream, McGowan won £5,000 on a game show, miraculously just enough to finance a trip to Jerusalem where a "small man ...who somehow knew my name" materialised and directed her to places associated with Mary Magdalene (possibly her tour guide?). But here's the clincher: while in France, McGowan was told that her maternal grandmother's name, Paschal, "is very important in the legends of Mary Magdalene".

C'mon, you can see where this is leading. Kathleen McGowan is only the direct descendant of Jesus and his missus. As she herself says: "Yes, I do stand in front of the mirror sometimes and see the similarities between myself and Mary Magdalene. I'm small ... my hair is strawberry blonde and my eyes are green." Just what you'd expect of a woman living in the Middle East in Biblical times.

I mean, why should the living manifestation of God's bloodline on earth looklike Audrey Tautou in The Da Vinci Code? Isn't it more likely she'd be a frowsy middle-aged housewife from LA with a gift for popular fiction?

As Digby Halsby, of Simon & Schuster (McGowan's UK publishers) said, while trying not to choke on a pretzel: "She makes a very convincing argument."

I have to admit I'm jealous of McGowan. What woman hasn't dreamed of dumping her own persona mid-stream and reinventing herself? (As a country and western star, in my case.) Isn't that what plastic surgery's all about? You go under as Katie Price and awake to find yourself Jordan.

It's no wonder women's imaginations dwell so readily on improbable transformations: the most potent myth directed at the young female is the Cinderella story. Mandy magazine, which I gorged on as a child, ran a non-stop diet of tragic orphans triumphing over matron, bitches and leg-braces to become stars of ballet, stage and gymkhana.

Men are invulnerable to this myth. Boys inherit the legacy of St George: that there's something huge out there which they must use courage, strength and wit to outmanoeuvre. Young men effect their own triumphs. But then so do women such as Kathleen McGowan.

For those females who exit their teens more duck than swan, any future transformation is a matter of will power: it's under the scalpel or release your inner Grand Duchess. And I, for one, am inclined to find those who forge their own dramatic, if improbable, metamorphoses the more admirable.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas